Virtual Hike of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh Scotland

Edinburgh Scotland.

“And now you’ll be telling stories of my coming back and they won’t be false, and they won’t be true but they’ll be real.”

-Mary Oliver

The theme of the Lens-Artists photo challenge this week, hosted by John (Photos by Johnbo), is “Going Back – the Second Time Around”. The concept is that if you’ve visited a place a second time, how did you approach the second trip photographically.

During my first trip to Edinburgh, we toured Edinburgh Castle (you can find my post of one of the exhibits here: Prisons of War) and walked the Royal Mile and toured the Palace of Holyroodhouse (you can find my post on the Abbey here: Visiting Holyrood Abbey and view from the courtyard of the palace here: What is the Capital of…). And these were just a few of the sights that we took in.

While our return trip to Scotland was mainly to spend some time visiting the Highlands, we did spend time once again in Edinburgh. And even though we loved all the things we did on our first trip, we wanted to be sure to include new experiences. Two of those were the attractions The Real Mary King’s Close and The Edinburgh Dungeon. Another was the hiking of Arthur’s Seat.

Hike of Arthur’s Seat.

In the last Lens-Artists challenge the theme was simplicity and among the photos I shared was one taken from a hike to Arthur’s Seat (It’s So Simple). Quite a few people commented about how they loved hiking Arthur’s Seat when they were in Edinburgh. It made me realize that I had not shared many photos from that hike. Since many of us are spending more time inside than we may have ever done, I thought we’d take a virtual hike of Arthur’s Seat this week.

Arthur’s Seat is an extinct volcano and at its highest point, it rises to an elevation of 823 ft ( 251 m).

It is located in Holyrood Park, at the end of the Royal Mile.

In the photo above, you can see it rising well above the surrounding area. This was taken on Horse Wynd and The Scottish Parliament Building is on the right. We continued on to The Queen’s Drive to the entrance of the hike. While I usually have a general idea of the direction that I am heading, I also keep the destination loaded into Google Maps on my phone.

Legend has it that Arthur’s Seat is so named because it was the location of Camelot.

That is only one of the many different ideas of how it received its name. Another, that many consider more plausible, is that it evolved from the Gaelic meaning of “Height of Arrows” or “Archer’s Seat”.

We decided that we would hike up to Arthur’s Seat to watch the sun setting over the city.

Our shadows were already beginning to grow long as we began the hike.

Many estimates are that the hike should take 30-60 minutes.

There are varying pathways, but most sources say the distance of the hike ranges from 2.3 to 3 miles roundtrip.

I am originally a Floridian (aka: A Flatlander). However, I’ve lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia for the past 6 years. I’ve also been visiting the mountains of Virginia for the past 20 years along with time spent in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia. I even climbed to the top of Clingmans Dome, beating some family members, while 6 months pregnant with my youngest (located in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the 1/2 mile trail climbs 332 ft, a gradient of almost 13% – meaning, your quads will cry).

I’m sharing this because while the hike is considered relatively easy, you are climbing to an elevation 823 ft. And while I couldn’t find an exact number for how high above sea level you are when you begin, most sources seem to range around 100 ft. Ascending over 700 ft for this distance means that some of the hike feels steep. There were a few times where I needed to stop to catch my breath.

Some of that was also because the temperature was dropping and the wind picking up, which also affects my breathing. And also because my mother is still a Flatlander. By the time we made it to the top, we were putting on coats and beanie caps. Which brings me to another point. ALWAYS be prepared. We had cold weather gear, wore comfortable shoes, and carried enough water.

This view is looking back at Calton Hill.

While it’s hard to make out since I’m shooting directly into the sun, you can see the Nelson Monument and the National Monument of Scotland (for better views, check out the post: National Monument of Scotland).

You may be wondering why I’m sharing this photo.

Or maybe not since most people reading this may be photographers.

But here’s a tip for those who may not be as far along on the journey of capturing photographs.

When you hear about photographers shooting in RAW…this is why. This photo is the “before” shot looking back at Calton Hill.

Shooting in RAW was something I knew nothing about when I first started taking photos. We all start somewhere, right?! RAW captures all image data recorded by the sensor when you take a photo. This gives you a much broader spectrum in which to work when you are editing your photos.

While the “after” photo is not necessarily something I would print, it still had enough information held within the capture to share with all of you a view that I happened to like. I know we’d all like to be able to control the conditions in which a photo is taken. However, that is not always possible, especially when traveling. I’m still learning how to adjust shutter speed and ISO in order to compensate for lighting. In the meantime, I’m happy that some things can be done post-production.

Another note for those who aren’t familiar with RAW, it is a much larger file than JPEG so you may need to carry more than one memory card if you plan to take lots of photos.

“A lost road will remember your footsteps because someday you may want to return, tracing the way.” 

– Munia Khan

From the top of Arthur’s Seat, you can look out onto the city of Edinburgh and to the Firth of Forth.

The Firth of Forth is an estuary that’s said to begin in Stirling. It travels along and widens at Edinburgh before narrowing and widening again as it makes its way to eventually flowing into the North Sea.

“The land is always there…it is you who has to return.”

– Munia Khan

“It is a big world, full of things that steal your breath and fill your belly with fire…But where you go when you leave isn’t as important as where you go when you come home.” 

– Lindsay Edgar

“I believe that each person has a favorite place, a tree, a mountain, or a beach which they want to come back to, even if the return can only take place in the boundaries of their imagination.”

-Sana Szewczyk

One of the sights along the hike is St. Anthony’s Chapel.

The ruins of this chapel are said to date from the 1300s or beyond.

There is still much mystery surrounding the location and reason for the existence of St. Anthony’s Chapel. I did find a good description of what is known on this website:

While I would have loved to have hiked up to St. Anthony’s Chapel and witnessed it along with the holy well, unfortunately we were under time constraints.

The setting of the sun waits for no one.

And so a visit to St. Anthony’s Chapel would have to be for another trip.

“There is a kind of magicness about going far away and then coming back all changed.” 

– Kate Douglas Wiggin

Conversation Time!

Have you visited Edinburgh? If so, what were your favorite things to see, do, eat.

Have you hiked Arthur’s Seat?

What hike do you consider to be your favorite thus far?

Mine has always been the Fallingwater Cascades Trail at the Peaks of Otter in Bedford, Virginia. I hiked it for my 21st birthday and then we hiked it each year when we would visit my in-laws. I would say that my hike of Dragon’s Tooth definitely gives it some competition. And hiking McAfee Knob is on my list once we are able to get on the Appalachian Trail again.

I hope you enjoyed this virtual hike of Arthur’s Seat.

Stay safe and healthy out there! Sending you all love and light! xx

Let your light shine!


32 thoughts on “Virtual Hike of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh Scotland

  1. When I was in college, studying abroad in England, I’ve visited Edinburgh with some friends but did not hike Arthur’s Seat. We went shopping as I recall and visited a castle or two and drank whisky. Oddly enough I remember liking the city but don’t remember many specifics about it. Probably too much whisky.

    1. Ha!Ha! Whiskey could definitely have an effect on memory. We had some whiskey at a great little pub in Inverness called Hootenanny’s. It was great music and great fun and I had to visit since the name is tied to Appalachia and I remember hearing the term as a child.

  2. Ooh, I’d love this hike! I’ve never been to Scotland. I hope I get there one day.

    Picking a favorite hike…that’s hard there have been so many that I’ve loved for different reasons. I’ll think about it, but put on the spot I’d say the two night hikes up to Cloud’s Rest in Yosemite NP are my favorites. They were very arduous. I was fighting elevation sickness the whole time up. Like you I went up from nearly sea level and started hiking up even higher. No real accumulation time. I hiked all night with friends to be on Clouds Rest for sunrise twice in two weeks. It was epic. I was in my 50’s then. 😀

    1. I hope you get a chance to visit Scotland, Deborah!

      Yosemite is on my wish list of places to visit. I don’t do well when the air begins to thin or if it’s cold. I also get massive lingering earaches if the cold wind blows in my ears too long. If the weather is questionable, I’ve learned to carry a beanie and usually have something to cover my nose and mouth. That does sound like an epic hike!! I’m sure the sunrise was just spectacular!! 🙂

      1. My ears nose and throat are my Achilles heel. Since cutting my hair ina pixie I’ve had to wear ear coverings to keep the wind out of them or else I get earaches and sometimes ear infections. You’re supposed to grow out of those! Somebody tell my ears please!

        I hope you get to go to Yosemite. It’s my top NP for beauty and hiking.

  3. A beautiful post about a beautiful place. We drove most all of Scotland during a month-long visit a few years back. I was amazed at the variety of landscapes and how easily one could get around between them (except for the narrow 2-way roads often requiring pulling off to allow a car in the opposite direction to pass). My favorite area was up near Ullapool – and of course seeing the highland cows!!

    1. Thank you, Tina! Scotland is just gorgeous.

      We were only brave enough to drive during our day trip on the Isle of Lewis and we encountered some of those single-track roads.

      On our tour of the Isle of Skye, it was pretty wild how the tour bus would just be cruising along and then whip into one of those passing places. I guess you get used to driving them though.

      At one point, we thought we’d be taking the ferry out of Ullapool, but we decided on a different itinerary so we didn’t make it up that way.

      The Highland Cows are just the cutest!! We passed through a field with some when we were visiting the Standing Stones of Callanish and on our return tour of the Isle of Skye, they stopped at a spot where we were able to feed some!

  4. Thank you for this virtual hike! Yes, I have been to Edinburgh but only for two days after spending a week exploring other parts of Scotland. This post makes me want to go back! Thank you!

    1. I’m glad that you enjoyed the hike! I think we were in Edinburgh for two or three days each time and I’m sure there still more there that I’ve yet to see. And there’s also still so much of Scotland I want to explore! I hope you get a chance to go back! 🙂

  5. Hi Amy, An intriguing quote from Mary Oliver. I think we would all love to go back on a trip and see places we didn’t see the first time. Also, to visit places again. Fascinating about Arthur’s Seat. Your photos are exceptional. You made me smile, Amy, with “your quads will cry.” Well said. Good point, on the always be prepared. All of your photos are stunning. I have loved this virtual hike. Scotland was very much on my “go to next” list until everything changed. We will see where life takes us next. Take care. xx

    1. Hi, Erica! I do think we all have a place (or places) that we’d love to have a chance to visit again. For me, it may be every single place I’ve ever visited thus far. lol. Thank you for your kind compliment on my photos. 🙂
      I remember when we visited Stirling Castle and walked there from the train station. We had not been walking long when my aunt asked a gentleman the way to the castle. He said “up,up, up. Your thighs will let you know when you are there.” To which, either my aunt or mom replied, “well they already hurt so we must be close.” We all had a good laugh because the GPS said we had a ways to go!
      I hope you get a chance to visit Scotland. This timeline limbo is a strange time indeed. You take care as well!! xx

  6. I think we hiked up there when we visited years ago. I’ll have to go read their version of the Arturian legend – I’ve always read/thought/understood that Arthur was supposed to have been in the south west of England. Various texts piece together an ancient King that was potentially a trained Roman military leader, who forged a powerful army that kept the English out of the South West for generations – the division is still there today… Of course it could all be fairy stories 🙂

    1. I think I remember you mentioning that you’ve hiked this before. I think everyone loves to claim the location of Camelot. A while back I watched an episode of Expedition Unknown where the host traveled all around England, Scotland, and Wales following clues and claims. It was quite fascinating. Wales tourist website has some really interesting points of interest around the story as well.
      I suspect there is truth to the story just like Troy was originally considered myth. I think some things are embelished since most stories were originally oral histories and fairy like qualities (ie – stories) are easier to remember than straight facts (ie history narrations). Of course, that’s just my opinion. 🙂

    1. Boo on the rain! We had that trouble on the Isle of Skye. It was raining during some of our stops and so we weren’t able to hike as far as we’d have liked. The view from the top was really amazing! 🙂

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